Announcement – University Librarian

To the Yale Community,

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Barbara Rockenbach as the next Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian, effective July 1, 2020, pending the approval of the board of trustees at their next meeting. She is currently the associate university librarian for research and learning at Columbia University. Ms. Rockenbach has spent her career developing innovative library services in support of education and scholarship. She brings to Yale deep expertise and a commitment to ensuring that our libraries will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of faculty and students.

Ms. Rockenbach believes strongly that university libraries must balance a dedication to supporting emerging areas of research and scholarship with a commitment to maintaining and increasing collections in all formats. For nearly nine years at Columbia University, she has demonstrated an ability to strike that balance. For example, she built a digital humanities program in close collaboration with faculty members and library staff—this effort was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Arcadia Foundation. At the same time, she enhanced existing collections. As interim director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, she helped bring special collections, such as the Arthur Mitchell archive and materials for the Latino Arts and Activism Archives, to the university. She also formed partnerships with schools and units on campus to provide research tools and methods for students and faculty, and she created training programs to enhance the capabilities of library staff.

Over the years, Ms. Rockenbach has gained extensive experience in leading the operations of a library system. Her responsibilities at Columbia included the oversight of access services; communications; copyright services; digital scholarship; research data services; humanities and global studies collections; and science, engineering, and social science libraries. In addition, she has contributed to the growth of her field, publishing articles and speaking at conferences on information ethics, visual literacy, applying pedagogical theory to the support of research education, digital humanities, and student wellness.

Ms. Rockenbach is familiar with the distinct strengths of Yale’s libraries and their importance to the core mission of the university. Prior to leading efforts at Columbia, she served at Yale as the director of undergraduate and library research education and as an instructional services librarian for the arts library. She has also worked at the digital library JSTOR and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.A. in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh, and M.A. in art history from Hunter College.

With a deep appreciation for how Yale University libraries have evolved over the years, Ms. Rockenbach is looking forward to building on all that Susan Gibbons accomplished during her tenure as university librarian. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Susan for her exemplary leadership of the university library system. In her new role as the vice provost for collections and scholarly communications, she will continue to connect the university’s world-class collections to our mission of education, research, preservation, and practice.

In choosing our next university librarian, I benefited from the insights of members of the Yale community who work with and care deeply about Yale’s libraries and collections. In particular, I would like to thank the University Librarian Search Advisory Committee: Christina Kraus (chair), Megan Barnett, Richard Belitsky, Marijeta Bozovic, Jessica Brantley, Jennifer Frederick, Holly Rushmeier, Oswald Schmitz, Shyam Sunder, Stephanie Wiles, and Harrison Zhou.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yale’s physical libraries are currently closed, but the hardworking staff are providing online services to support classes and research. Although we will not be able to congratulate Ms. Rockenbach in person on her new role right now, please join me in giving her a big virtual welcome back to the Yale community!


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology